Joining the Silk Road: shaking heads over Switzerland
Switzerland has joined China's controversial New Silk Road infrastructure initiative. On a state visit President Ueli Maurer was welcomed by Xi Jinping in Beijing, where the two leaders signed a declaration of intent. Switzerland's decision leaves a bitter aftertaste in commentators' mouths.
Humanitarian tradition overboard
That Switzerland has also decided to join is a shameful indictment of the country, comments the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“Many countries in Africa, Central and Southeast Asia are becoming involved in the New Silk Road in the hope that it will help them finance desperately needed infrastructure projects. Switzerland has no such need. It is simply kowtowing to domestic economic interests. It is utterly perfidious that [Swiss President] Maurer is selling the idea as development aid, pointing to Switzerland's 'long humanitarian tradition'. With this statement he has thrown the country's proud humanitarian tradition overboard.”
Bavaria more important than China
The EU and its domestic markets must continue to take priority over China in Swiss politics, warns the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
“Of course the east Asian country is becoming increasingly important for the export industry. But this growth must be relativised. China is still catching up with the highly developed European countries. In absolute terms these countries are still far more important for economic exchange. The volume of trade with the southern German states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria alone is larger than with China. Against this background access to the EU domestic market remains central. A partner with which, for all the differences, Bern still shares many political values.”